High-priority police cases trump Occupy Tucson citations
Protesters had climbed trees to avoid police, arrests
For the first time since the Occupy movement came to the Tucson, police did not issue citations to the protesters staying overnight in city parks. The department says its officers were just too busy. Video by kgun9.com
Occupy Tucson organizer Jonathan McLane, 28, was arrested Monday night for writing messages in chalk on TPD headquarters.
A protester climbs a tree in Veinte de Agosto Park Monday night to avoid police and a citation.
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - For the first time since the Occupy movement came to the Tucson, police did not issue citations to the protesters staying overnight in city parks. The department says its officers were just too busy.
Demonstrators had planned on taking a stand
for free speech and the right to assemble Monday night in Veinte de Agosto Park. To do that, a few climbed trees; others planned to join them when police arrived.
“If anything, they really don't know how to get in trees or get people down from trees these days,” protester Joshua Camacho told KGUN9 News, referring to police.
Some hoped to dodge the police, citations and arrests being up in trees. Others expected "passive arrests." But, for the first time since the protest began 45 days ago, officers did not even show up.
“What we ended up with was a situation where enforcing the essentially nonviolent misdemeanor offense of remaining in a park after hours fell way below the threshold for us in terms of response,” said Sgt. Matt Ronstadt with TPD. “When stacked up against the other events that we had occurring last night, which included a multiple shooting that turned into a homicide. We had a traffic fatality--a collision to respond to. We had a report of a home invasion-type robbery with shots fired involved.”
Among the other incidents officers responded to that night: Jon McLane, an Occupy protester and organizer, was caught making graffiti with chalk at TPD headquarters. Other incidents occurred in Veinte de Agosto Park.
Ronstadt said the protesters' plans to take a stand by climbing trees did not influence the department’s decision to not issue its nightly citations. But the intent was noted.
“We have seen that they have escalated their tactics,” Ronstadt said. “They have become more confrontational with us when our officers are there. You can expect and they can expect and we have communicated with them directly that our tactics will respond as needed in order to enforce the law.”
McLane said protesters did not plan on climbing trees Tuesday night.